Friday, July 31, 2009

Ink and Field Trip!!

To get it out of the way and quell any raging curiosity, despite a bit of nerves but lots of support and great advice from friends like Gil, Inky, Crystal, and the Tattooed Knitters' Group on Ravelry, I did actually go through with the tattoo this afternoon (much to the surprise of a couple friends).
I absolutely LOVE it! We (the artist, Chrissy at Copper Coffin, and I) decided on all black because of the fine lines rather than trying to work color in and potentially ruining it. I really love the simplicity of it - her initial design was really gorgeous (you can see the remains of the stencil of it a little in the pic - I was THAT close to getting that one!), but a lot more complicated and curvy and in the end, I just couldn't do it. We had to go back to the drawing board for about an hour before we settled on this one (based on an image we found online) but once we hit on it, I was totally ready. And, before anyone asks, I won't say it was the most pleasant experience of my life, but it didn't really hurt, either. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a "what was that?" and 10 being a "omg, please kill me now!", it was about a 2.5. It got slightly higher than that only once or twice, but never for more than a second or two, but Gil's suggestion of "ceremony" helped. I'm super happy with it and can't wait to show it off! Several of my friends have teased me that tattoos are addictive, but it took a year of pondering and almost another full year to be absolutely sure of what I wanted, so while I'll never say never, I'm not forseeing another tattoo in near future. I love this one, it's exactly what I wanted, and another image is going to have to stay in my head for at least that long again to make me want it.

In my quest to amuse myself when not on base, and also because I've been researching some of the local history (the local library has some really good books), I took myself on a low-cost ($5) field trip on Tuesday. Inspired by some pretty pictures of the place from a book on local ghost stories (one of the main reasons I'm looking into local history), I decided to head south and see Mission Santa Barbara up close and personal:
Mass is still held there certain days of the week, and you can tour the cemetery with its super old grave markers in both English and Spanish (which, of course, is something I had never really thought about before), but most of it is now a museum and really interesting. I learned, for example, that the girl that the story "Island of the Blue Dolphins" (which I sort of vaguely remember reading in early grade school, but am more familiar with it because it was one of our Outreach shows last year) was real and was taken from San Nicolas island to the mission to be cared for after she was "rescued". (Considering she died from an illness seven weeks after her rescue, and she had survived something like seventeen years on the island by herself, not sure if it actually did her any good, unfortunately.)

The gardens were small, but I saw this plaque and thought Mom would like it:

"He even said that the brother gardener ought to reserve a place in a corner for a beautiful small garden where he put all kinds of aromatic herbs & flowering plants so that they, in their season, might invite all men who looked at them to praise God. For every creature says & proclaims "God has created me for you, O man!" - St. Francis of Assisi

And despite the ghost stories, I found it a very peaceful place to spend a lovely sunny afternoon. I took tons of pictures, but one in particular has something interesting. This is a picture of the original central altar of the mission. It has been restored, but it is kept off to the side of the main chapel (which is quite lovely, btw) in a small alcove for preservation reasons. It is the only thing in the room and takes up about 85% of the space. There is no glass around it - visitors are kept back by a simple velvet rope across the doorway. Flash photography is not allowed. I took three pictures of the altar from the same angle, but only one had this white splotch on the right side.

Not being any kind of photography expert (if it's more complicated than point and click, it's not mine), it's got to be some lighting thing, I'm sure. But I did think it was interesting that it didn't happen in any of the others.

No real knitting news. I'm working on the third square of the second strip, and Baby S saw me working on the Twizzle scarf with TKD Grandma between classes on Monday and decided that he "want to knit!" He climbed up next to me and I'd wrap the yarn around the needle and let him pull the new stitch off the old needle. It was pretty cute - he was in one of those rare cuddly but still happy moods that are so sweet to be around. My knuckles were hurting a little this week, though, so I put down the knitting and picked up the Noah's Ark cross-stitch for a few days. I almost have the current page of the chart finished!! Only, um, seven more pages to go...yes, it's HUGE, for a cross-stitch project!

Picked up a couple new pairs of slacks that actually fit and have all the paperwork ready to start working on base on Monday. We're going to get my computer access taken care of during drill this weekend (hopefully, anyway), and the guys at the unit seem pretty happy to hear that I'll be there more frequently. It sounds like I'll be splitting time between the building the 216th is in and 11777 (Eleven Triple Seven), which is the main operations building on base. It will be nice to have a real schedule, a real (if temporary, but they're working on that) job, and be around some new people!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Honesty is the best policy...

I am quite aware of the fact that certain family members read this blog and also have an online presence (or can persuade some of my rl friends into talking) and will eventually find this out anyway. In the interest of total honesty (and in the safety of being free, American, over 21, and 2200 miles away), I will be the first to say this.

I am getting a tattoo.

I have been wanting one for several years now, but could never think of any particular image that I felt really suited me. Then, ever since this day back in October, one image has stayed with me. A phoenix. Rising from the ashes. A fresh start. A reminder that getting burned isn't the end, and that something beautiful and strong can come from it. Maybe it's a little grandiose, but it's really how I feel. I'm really truly rebuilding my life and I want that reminder for me now and in the future.

I decided that I would set aside only up to $5 a week for it, figuring that it would take about 8 months to save up enough for what I'd heard was a reasonable charge for one, and if I still wanted the tattoo enough to not have spent the money at that point, it wasn't just a fleeting whim. It took a little longer than I had wanted, but that gave me more time to think and be certain.

I'd also been spending the intervening months researching images to find one I liked, or liked enough to be able to work from. I'm actually not a huge fan of birds as a rule, so I knew pretty early on that it would be more of a stylized symbol (which I am a huge fan of) than an actual picture. Something a little "earthy" but still graceful. And something small and easily covered when necessary, but that could also be shown off appropriately (without dropping any clothing, for example). I've often admired Mrs. S's tattoos (she has some really pretty ones), so I asked her for a suggestion of where to go and who to talk to. She recommended the people at Copper Coffin, which, as it turns out, is just down the street.

I checked the place out today (not that I don't trust Mrs. S, but you know). It's extremely clean and bright and surrounded by other clean, bright businesses. The people who work there were very friendly, listened to what I wanted, and were very helpful. One of the ladies is going to do some drawings for me, and I'm really excited to go back on Thursday to see what she's come up with.

So, basically, this post is just to let everyone who might care know that I'm not trying to hide anything, and this is something that I've thought about carefully and for quite a while now. I'm actually really excited about it, and will post a pic of it when I can!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Change of Plans

Basic got pushed back (right now) to February 22. It seems the higher-ups at Channel Island won't approve the split training option and are saying that I have to do Basic, Space 100 and MILSTAR all consecutively. Since the ONLY Space 100 class is in April, that kind of defines when I go to Basic. And since the MSgt who has been dealing with all my paperwork is on leave until next week, and the TSgt who has been trying to handle things in her absence is really being very helpful but doesn't have quite the pull she does, who knows what's really going on. Right now, Channel Island is saying that as soon as this paperwork is submitted, the February date is all but set in stone. I'll believe that when I see it.

I'm discouraged, but looking on the bright side of things. Sir cackled madly when I told him he'd be stuck with me until February, which has me a bit worried. (Okay, he sympathized with my frustration and claims I'll be "15 steps above everyone else" once I finally get there. Class was a little goofy tonight - just me, Sir, and two of the guys. We even did a little bit of grappling - although that definitely seems to be more of a guy thing. I was partnered with Sir, though, and he had to keep an eye on the guys, so that could be it, too.) I can finish out at least one more full semester at Embry-Riddle and get that much closer to my degree. I don't have to worry about what leaving, coming back, leaving, and coming back again will do to the TeddieCat. Starting Monday, I have a job that will last me at least through September. Life could most definitely be a lot worse.

On the other hand, I do have to go shopping for at least a couple pairs of slacks and some tops for work. Yay =P

ETA: So, the new job won't start until Aug. 3 now because the paperwork didn't get to the East Coast guy (no idea why it has to go there, but it does, apparently) until today. Grr!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just Pile It On!

Me: So, should I keep working on the Songham form or focus on learning the new form? What should I focus on?

Sir: Well, the one is muscle memory. You already know it. Keep working on that one.

Me: But we're going to be working on the new one in class?

Sir: Yup. You know what? The midterms will depend on how much of it I know, so I'll let you know. Work on both of them.

Me: *mental facepalm* Cool!

Sigh. I'd been hoping to be able to test for my second degree before I left for Basic. I have one more midterm before my rank test. Not only have I been working on a new weapon form, but I have a new open-hand form to learn now, too! Doesn't look like I'll be midterming or testing again any time soon. Although, in all fairness, I think I have 95% of the form already. We've gone through about 3/4 of it in class already, and I know the next sequence is just the reverse and repeat of one of the earlier ones. There's just one sequence at the very end that Mr. R showed me tonight while I was waiting to talk to Sir after class that I hadn't seen at all. It includes what I would call a "ground windmill", which looked really hard, but then he showed me how to do it and it was super easy. That's the kind of stuff I like about these forms, though. They're pretty easy to pick up and they feel very natural. And, like I said, they look pretty cool. I'm totally willing and excited to learn (and possibly midterm/test) with either or both of the open-hand forms, so I'm making sure that I write the new one down as I learn it, in case I don't get to test before I leave. I want to be able to remember it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It never rains, but it pours...

14 October 2009. The date I ship out for Basic. Yay! I don't have the actual orders themselves yet, so this isn't a firm, set-in-stone date, but that's what they're putting me in for. It's good to at least have that much! I can't get into a tech school until April, though, but I think that will work out for the best. I'll go to Basic, come back for about four months (I should be able to go home for Christmas even!), then go to Vandenberg from April until probably September or October. The time frames work out so that they cover major busy seasons for PCPA, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to sublet my apartment out to a guest artist or two. But I have dates for Basic! Yay!!!

AND, on top of that, I got a job on base!! My recruiter's admin assistant is on orders for August and September, and he asked me to fill in for her! Yay! A regular 8:30-4:30, M-F job that pays almost well enough to live on!! I am SOO excited!! Well, okay, maybe "excited" isn't the right word. "Relieved" and "eager" are probably both better.

Knitting-wise, I have the first strip of the afghan completely done and seamed and am working on the second square of the next one. I gotta say, this is one of the instances where sites like Ravelry shine. It's REALLY cool to be working on this with the actual designer a post away to discuss things like the color combinations and get her input on techniques. And she's in the UK! Anyway, it's pretty cool. I'm still working on the scarf, too, and still love it. I'll finish a square for the afghan, block it, and while it's drying I'll work on the scarf. It's a system that works.

Sir's started teaching the current black belts the Ki Nung recommended black belt form (he said he doesn't quite have all of the actual black belt form yet, but he wants us to start getting a feel for the new style). It's really kind of fun - axe kicks and circle blocks and leg sweeps - and really does have a nice flow to it. I like it a lot, but there's a double round kick (the same kick that is in my regular form) that for some reason is REALLY hurting my hip and I've lost the ability to do a round kick higher than someone's knee with my right leg this week. Really irritating. Going to work on it tomorrow. I'm also going to make sure that I work on my Songham forms tomorrow. We've been working on the Ki Nung forms so much that I haven't gone through my regular form in class for a couple weeks now. I worked on my ssahng jeol bahng form a few times between tkd and FIGHT tonight, but I ended up spending most of that time helping Ma'am and Mr. M with the new form.

Anyway, I'm celebrating with an ice cream sundae. It's been a good day!

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step...

"You can't tell me the sky is the limit. There are footprints on the moon!" - Anonymous

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Okay, I like strawberries, which is good considering the region I live in. However, one of my friends heard that I occasionally make strawberry jam and decided to bring me some berries, which was really sweet of her. TWO FLATS of strawberries! So now, since Sunday, I have been desperately finding ways to use up strawberries before they go bad (other than the obvious smoothies, milkshakes, and straight-up sugared options). So far, I've come up with these (links will take you to recipes or approximations thereof):
Strawberries & Cream bread. I'm not a big fan of fruity breads as a general rule, but MAN, is this stuff good!! Strawberries and walnuts, yummy!! I made two loaves and took one to the theater to feed the animals (they're in tech for Music Man atm, so I figured people could use the sustenance), cut one in half to bring into the dojahng tonight and kept the falling-apart-bits for myself, because, well, I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of all of it. (The trick to this one is make sure you have FRESH berries - frozen ones will make it soggy.)
The refrigerator's stash so far - two Strawberry Cheesecake Trifles (which are also quite yummy and also got sent to the theater), a pitcher of strawberry lemonade (I guessed and just used my standard lemonade concoction plus a cup of strawberries mostly crushed. I haven't tried it yet.), a Strawberry Strawberry Pie sans Cool Whip (I was going to send this to the theater, but it looks too good to give up. Sorry! I'm going to add the Cool Whip as I eat it, because I don't want to waste it), and a gallon-sized bag of whole berries that are going to Mrs. S tonight, because she was silly and said that she'd take some.
The pantry's strawberry stash - a dozen jars of jam (a couple will go to said friend) and the start of a strawberry liquour (which seems to end up being a sweet strawberry vodka, but it takes about six weeks, so we'll see). And the sad part? All of those recipes only used up ONE FLAT! I still have these to freeze and use later:
Three full quart bags, half a dozen "snack" bags, and the gallon bag that's going to the dojahng today. I had to clean out my freezer to make room, which was probably a good thing, but still. I'm really really sick of strawberries right now. They don't even sound good anymore. Where's the chocolate??

And, in knitting news, I have almost an entire strip done on the afghan:
It actually photographs a lot better than it looks irl, I think. You see more of the optical illusion in the pictures anyway. I think having the next strip, with the dark purple framing the squares from underneath, will help it more. I do like, it though. There's one more square to go in this strip (now that I'm done with strawberries, maybe I'll finally get a chance to knit again!) and then four more strips after this one, all with the grey squares growing slightly in size. I think this will be pretty cool when it's done.

Also, here's the start of the new Twizzle scarf:
It's a Diagonal Lace Scarf (Mountain Colors' pattern), super super simple lace, and shows off the yarn REALLY well. Unfortunately, the camera doesn't - the yarn is actually much much more royal purple than shows in the picture. I love love love this color! I haven't worked on the scarf since the flight back to Cali (again, stupid strawberries), but I'm looking forward to putting a little love into it this weekend.

I finally got a chance to ask Sir about my midterm the other night. He told me that my open-hand form was easily a "full grade up" this time compared to last time. He said that I looked much more confident with it and he was really pleased with it. I said that I'd been nervous because it had felt super-exceedingly slow (I finished my form dead last out of my group, and I was grouped with two second degrees whose forms are slightly longer), but he said that it timed out right where it should have. So now I have to work on keeping that up and not getting nervous and speeding up. I've also learned my entire ssahng jeol bahng form (Mr. R taught me the first half before I left for Illinois and I taught myself most of the second half - it's the same moves just left-handed - before coming back to tkd class on Monday) and Sir's had me working on that almost exclusively so far this week. It's a...different...weapon to get used to. You definitely have to be smooth with it, and, well, that's hard for me to say the least. He's given me a couple drills to work on besides the techniques in the form, though, and it's easy to work on at home (as long as you keep it in your hands and it doesn't go flying...ahem...). It also gets a LOT of outside attention from people walking by the school, which is unnerving but I'm trying to make myself get used to it for when I midterm. I still kind of like the bahng mahng ee form better, but I have a while before I have to decide which one I want to use to test.

Also, things haven't seemed quite so "they're all picking on me!" lately (although I did get Mrs. S on my case last night with both distance from the bags and then not holding the medicine ball correctly during floor work) but then, like I said, I've also been pretty exclusively working with a new weapon which deems lots of mistakes rather necessary. It's been really nice having just adults in the regular tkd class - we actually have ROOM now!! Sir, Mrs. S and Mr. R also went to a huge convention last week and brought back what sounds like a lot of cool ideas (Mrs. S said something about a Cardio Fight program, which she said was kickboxing, jujitsu and something else, that she's looking into for the kickboxing class and we've had some new drills in the other classes). Sir told us last night that there's a very strong possibility that we're going to be gradually shifting away from the Songham style to a style called Ki Nung (I think, I can't get the website to come up right now), because he feels their form techniques flow better into sparring and self-defense, but he's still doing some research on it. He showed us the white/orange/yellow belt form last night, and I gotta say, it looks a lot cooler and more fun than the Songham one. (Because the coolness factor clearly decides everything in martial arts! ;-) ) Anyway, that should be interesting in the coming weeks.

Speaking of class, gotta jet to make kickboxing!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Catching up

Oy! I am alive, I promise. I've been busy, but not a lot to actually talk about. In knitting news, I have about 5.5 squares of the afghan done. The original design is a 5x5 pattern, but that's only about 40"x40". My favorite cuddle-up blanket is approximately 40"x60", so I'm thinking about a 5x7 layout. The seaming isn't insane if you do it as soon as a square is finished, and I can tell that I've actually gotten better at seaming, particularly since the first time I did a modular afghan. (Although, honestly, I think the difference in yarns helps - smoother yarns are SO much easier to seam with.) I also picked up another skein of the delectable Mountain Colors Twizzle at a LYS near my parents' house earlier this week and started another scarf. Not that I really need yet another scarf - I count six handmade and three store-bought scarves plus my Lady Eleanor hanging in my closet right now - but I swear this yarn actually glows. I love working with it!

I spent the Fourth with my parents. It was great spending time with everyone back in Illinois, despite my dad having an almost-very-scary-but-at-least-I-come-by-my-stubbornness-honestly accident (he's okay), and even the weather cooperated for once. I got to spend time with my family and even got to meet Miss Gretchen Danielle, the recipient of the latest baby blanket, when she was just over a week old! (She didn't seem too impressed with the blanket, but it's hard work being a week old! You forget how tiny they are at that age, though.) I did indeed get to sit with Friend and Mrs. Friend on the way back to Vegas and it was fun to catch up with him face to face.

I came back in time to pull another graveyard shift with Sgt. P up at the 148th and meet my new NCOIC, who seems to be very helpful. Everyone up there, actually, has been really great. The 216th is also continuing to help me out, too. I walked in yesterday after class (more on that in a minute) and a SMSgt. randomly had me start one of the programs I need for my computer access. About the only thing I haven't been able to get is a date for Basic yet. EVERYONE seems to be asking me about it at this point. It seems to be held up by two things right now - lack of slots until October (they can start applying for those slots in August, though, so hopefully I will know something next drill), and the fact that my SMOD physical (which I need to get into tech school and took back in March) still hasn't gotten processed from Channel Islands and the MSgt at the 148th won't send me to Basic until she can guarantee that I can get into Tech School. However, by the time I actually GET to Basic, I should have my security clearance, my access badge, computer access, and enough time in rank that I can get promoted to Senior Airman after graduation, which my NCOIC is looking forward to =P

Like I said, I had class this weekend. Nothing like having a general tell you that he expects you personally to get 100% on his midterm. No pressure. I ended up with a 98% on the midterm and a 99% on the final. The presentation this term seemed a little easier - maybe I am actually getting a little more comfortable with them. Mine was on the SR-71 Blackbird, so I think the subject matter helped. The general's teaching again next term, which is cool.

At any rate, I've had a rather long week, with only two martial arts classes in twelve days to take off the edge (although both Ma'am and Mel helped me out with my new weapon form between classes Thursday and I think I might have the whole thing at least in theory now), so I'm going to take myself off to bed. Big plans for tomorrow include seaming the next square, doing laundry, cleaning the apartment, exploiting some potential job links, kickboxing, tkd (with my new weapon), and making a bunch of strawberry jam. Damn fruit stand sales...

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Two airports down, two to go! I love flying into Las Vegas at night - it's so fun! (Sadly, my pic of the view of the Strip from the runway was too blurry to show anyone. And the beam on the Luxor wasn't lit. Sad panda!) Unfortunately, McCarran airport is the one place in Vegas that actually sleeps at night. There are a couple guys my age or maybe my brother's who brought blankets with them, and a family behind me snoring loudly. Knowing myself rather well, I'm not going to deal with the terrible maybe two hours of sleep I'd actually get if I tried. I'll push through and either fall asleep on the plane (not very likely, unless it's as empty as the previous two flights have been) or just be up for 30+ hours and maybe go to bed at an almost-reasonable Midwest time. Of course, this is assuming that the flight into Atlanta isn't late (we all know how MY luck runs with those kinds of things) and I actually make the connection to Bloomington. The good news is that I didn't have to check any bags (even with my new ssahng jeol bahng in one, shhh!), so if the luggage doesn't make it this time, it's my own fault. Also, my Atlantean friend who lives in Atlanta (as he prefers to have it formatted) assures me that the Atlanta airport is very easy to get around in. I'm fully counting on the mathematical certainty that the distance from your landing gate to your connecting gate is inversely proportional to the amount of time you have to cover that distance, so I'm planning for about a mile and a half sprint. On the other hand, good knitting time is happening - I've finished the third square and am working on the second part of the fourth. And it's been interesting looking at planes and thinking about what we talked about in ASCI 603 last month. (Most commuter jets seem to be dihedral with high aspect ratios, in case anyone was wondering.) United is still my favorite airline, btw. The planes are always clean, shiny, the people treat me decently, there are still complimentary drinks and movies, and my absolute favorite thing - being able to listen to the flight deck communications. Yes, I'm a nerd, but I love it =)